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Qualities of a Good Researcher

Research is always full of challenges. For Danny Corral’15, Beloit taught him a good researcher needs patience, persistence and most of all, empathy.

Danny Corral graduated from Beloit in 2015 with a degree in Education & Youth Studies and History. During his time at Beloit, he was a part of a variety of activities, including the baseball team. Danny was a Ronald E. McNair Scholar. Through the McNair experience at Beloit with the mentorship of different professors, Danny found his passion for conducting research and decided to pursue his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Danny has a strong interest in issues of inequality in higher education, such as understanding what policies historically affect underrepresented youth from attending and succeeding in college. This has become one of the main focuses in the research Danny has been working on. Danny’s dissertation is a collection of three separate studies that broadly examine to what extent socioeconomic factors and specific immigration policies affect the educational attainment of Hispanic undocumented youth, using two nationally representative datasets and quantitative methods to analyze those data.

To Danny, three qualities a researcher should have are patience, persistence, and empathy. A graduate student often gets so focused on their research. He learned over time that good research takes time. Good ideas and ruminating on those ideas take time. Research also requires persistence. He cannot recall how many times he had to fail or make a mistake to ultimately get on the right track. And finally, a skill that may not be entirely central to research or teaching, but a skill that he learned at Beloit, is empathy. Everyone has their own background and trajectory in life and given the polarization in society, we (human beings) often lose sight of that uniqueness. Assuming everyone operates from your perspective or set of beliefs can be problematic, so being open-minded and putting yourself in the position of other people can go a long way.

Looking back to his time at Beloit, Danny said there were several things that shaped his personality and perception. The first is the McNair program that he conducted two summers of undergraduate research. The second most impactful thing is the classes and practicum experiences in the EDYS program. Danny remembers going to visit Beloit with his parents and sitting in professor Bill New’s office chatting about teaching high school social studies. From that point on, he enjoyed every EDYS class, such as the Immigration and American Schools course taught by Tom Owenby to the Constructing Differences class (EDYS164) with professor Jingjing Lou, which all really informed the way he thinks about his own research and teaching. Danny’s student teaching experience taught him to convey information clearly, as well as to always make sure he is constantly aware and leverage the diverse backgrounds of individuals he is working with.

Danny has recently graduated from his Ph.D. program at UW Madison and is now a tenure-track professor at the University of Toronto. We are proud to feature this article about him on our department’s Facebook page as well as our website.

Linh Anh Le’20
March 26, 2020

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